1. Share your thoughts on the role of productivity tools in the classroom, and include your thoughts on the pros/cons of proprietary v. open source v. web-based options for use with and by students. Productivity tools definitely have a place in the classroom. By definition according to the text, "Productivity is designed to make people more effective and efficient while performing daily activities." (Shelly 144) With this being said, teachers are some of the most hard working individuals that contribute to society.
By giving teachers an easier way to accomplish what used to be time consuming tasks such as creating written documents, newsletters, lesson plans, handouts, etc., teachers are now able to save time and manipulate their work easily just by clicking a few buttons and creating whatever their needs may be dependent on their class. Lessons that used to require days and weeks of planning in advance, can now take minutes to prepare by using productivity software.
In regards to proprietary software versus open source and web-based options to use in the classroom setting, I like to use whatever I can get my hands on. I enjoy using the Microsoft Office Suite, but there are many programs included in the package that I have never used. For the most part it is easy to use and can be located on most computers. Unfortunately, I often have to look for other resources to use when I cannot duplicate something in the Microsoft Office platform such as templates that have been created in MS Office 2007, not working in MS Office 2003. Typically this is the result of my school computer, not having the most current edition of the software and having to dumb down my home computer 2007 software to use with lessons/presentations that I create from home. For this reason, I am really excited about the links that were provided in the learning module.
I have not used OpenOffice.org in the past, but will definitely have to keep it in mind when I am looking to create something. I have used web-based options like GoogleDoc's in the past and Microsoft Office's Workspace to save work at home and access it in my classroom. The reason I like web-based platforms is because you can access it from any connected computer and the appearance remains consistent to the original design. Students can also access web-based platforms from school and home which definitely is a plus when thinking in regards to productivity.
2. Provide your reaction to performing the assigned spreadsheet tasks (e.g., How difficult was this? Do you think you'll ever use these spreadsheet skills again?).
I'm glad this was a task required for this module. I had a hard time at first remembering how to work MS 2003's version of Excel in my classroom. I have been using the 2007 version for a while now at home and had to go back and look at some of the excel tutorials. I do not enjoy doing spreadsheets in all honesty, but at some points in time in my classroom they are very helpful. My classroom grading platform is through a web-based service called SmartWeb. Having to go back and configure grades was a good reminder of how lucky I am to have a program that does the work for me.
3. Share the resource(s) that you found most helpful in learning how to perform any unfamiliar tasks.
To help with Excel the tutorial and help menu were excellent in answering my questions. To figure out the extra credit, which was quite tricky, I had to play around and talk myself through the "what if" scenarios until I found what I was looking for.